We recently wondered when more of the vacant retail spaces along the seemingly thriving North 2nd Street in Northern Liberties would find new tenants. In early March, we shared the news of a proposal for a new cafe at 708 N. 2nd St. Those plans have since been approved and now a new proposal has been submitted for a 150 seat restaurant and jazz club two blocks to the north at 914 N. 2nd St.

The building

Jason and Delphine Evenchik, owners of Time and several other local establishments, appeared before the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association (NLNA) in April. They were asked to return with more formalized plans, according to Larry Freedman, NLNA zoning chair. According to Freedman, the plans were “cool” and included a stage, “nooks and crannies” and an outdoor rear garden. The issue however, is in the details of the zoning approval being sought. Since no proviso can be made in terms of what music can be played at a given location, even if the zoning approval indicates jazz music, any type of music could become the norm. NLNA has had instances in the past where it approved a place for one thing, it turned into another and became a “hellhole,” says Freedman. They want to make sure that does not happen, and that this proposal becomes the cool, well designed jazz and eats kick it’s envisioned to be.

“We don’t care what kind of music it is,” says Freedman. “Jazz or AC/DC.” The issue the NLNA wants to be certain is taken care of, is that whatever the type of music, Coltrane or Coldplay, Gwar or G. Love, the noise stay contained within the building. “We know how to mitigate certain things in engineering so we don’t have to change it later,” says Freedman.

It could get loud for the surrounding block if precautions aren't taken

That means focusing on design details like height and angles, and suggesting things like constructing a roof over the proposed garden. It also means working with neighbors to make sure they’re kept happy. Freedman said that when North Bowl came through the NLNA zoning process, it took something like 30 meetings to get it right. With that in mind, one would think the owners of the North Bowl, who also own this building, would present applicants to NLNA who are prepared to deal with such a process, and invested enough in their project that the local process will be worked through.

This is how it happens in Northern Liberties. NLNA is concerned with maintaining its neighborhood character, and works to create and style that character through making sure projects being constructed among its streets are developed in ways that contribute to the neighborhood and do not inflame neighbors. We’ll let you know more about this project as the process unfolds in the coming months. Hopefully, this does come through, making one more interesting spot to check out in Northern Liberties and adding to the already rocking neighborhood jazz scene established years ago by Ortlieb’s just a few blocks away.

–Lou Mancinelli